For the third time in a row, Reed Elsevier has organized the Environmental Challenge to look for and award the three most innovative, sustainable and scalable business ideas in WASH. The three projects that best demonstrate how they can provide sustainable access to safe water or improved sanitation win the Challenge.
We are very proud to be a partner of Reed Elsevier in this year’s Environmental Challenge, especially because especially because we strongly believe that more business approaches need to be developed to scale up WASH and meet the needs of a growing population. Besides taking part in the expert panel of external judges, we were offered the opportunity to award the third prize of $15.000. We have handed out this award during the award ceremony at World Water Week that took place Tuesday evening September 3rd.
We are very proud to announce that the winner of the WASH Alliance Third Price is Arjen Swank from Text to Change, an NGO which produces innovative mobile solutions for development, for its “WaterMonitor: Managing water supply and engaging communities at scale” project. The UN Joint Monitoring Program has estimated that water points in Africa fail between 30-60 percent of the time. Text to Change will use smartphone technology to map Uganda’s water points and alert experts when repairs are needed in order to extend the life of the country’s water points. The prize money will be used to map water points and educate 15,000 people on issues related to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation.
The $50,000 first prize winner is WaterSHED, an NGO which engages local enterprises and governments to develop sustainable, market-based approaches to effective water and sanitation provision in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. An estimated 1.8 million households in rural Cambodia do not have access to safe sanitation. WaterSHED’s research demonstrates that Cambodians desire a shelter for sanitation facilities, and will not purchase a latrine without an appropriate accompanying structure. Prize money will be used for WaterSHED’s “Introduction of improved toilet shelter for increased sanitation coverage” project, developing shelters for sanitation facilities which are acceptable to local communities.
The $25,000 second prize winner is Gadgil Laboratory at UC Berkeley, for its “Sustainable and scalable arsenic remediation of groundwater in South Asia” project. Deaths and disease are linked to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in untreated groundwater throughout South Asia. Through their invention, Electro-Chemical Arsenic Remediation, Gadgil Laboratory will bring safe water to local communities in West Bengal, where arsenic contamination of groundwater is rife. The technology uses ordinary steel plates and low DC voltage. Prize money will be used to establish a 15 month field trial for approximately 2,500 school children, with excess arsenic-free water sold to the village community.
The Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge was launched in 2011 to contribute to the Water for Life Decade, established by the UN General Assembly between 2005 and 2015, in order to reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Dieuwertje Damen, Dutch WASH Alliance